Skerritt and Williams Take Two in Astoria Cross Crusade Weekend – UPDATED: Photos, Race Reports

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How many

How many "bubbles" do you think survived the race? © Dave Roth

Shannon Skerritt (Corsa Concepts) put in two dominating performances to win both Cross Crusade races over the Halloween weekend and claim the overall series lead from Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), who took the weekend off from racing. In the women’s race, Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) also went back to back, stamping her mark on Saturday’s race, and coming from behind to win Sunday’s costumed affair. Williams’ primary challengers in the Crusade series didn’t take the start as Alice Pennington was busy mixing it up in the Boulder Cup NACT weekend, and Sue Butler told Cyclocross Magazine that she’s still recovering from a sinus infection she contracted while in Europe for the Aigle and Pilzen World Cups. [Read Butler's Pilzen journal entry here]

by Laura Winberry and Josh Liberles

Astoria, Oregon – Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, just across from Washington, Astoria once again played host to the Halloween double Cross Crusade weekend. Many participants elect to camp at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, creating a festive, late night, midseason celebration that spills over into Sunday’s costumed race day.

Saturday’s Race: Cross Crusade #5

Elite men ready and waiting © Dave Roth

Elite men ready and waiting © Dave Roth

A steady supply of rain leading up to race weekend ensured that the course was well-greased, although further precipitation remained at bay for Saturday’s event. The route included significant climbs and twisty, muddy descents to test both fitness and handling skills, and Shannon Skerritt proved that he had both in spades. Skerritt took flight from the gun, leading into the race’s first corner from pavement to fast dirt descent, and he continued to build his gap from there.

Michael Gallagher ( would pace his way through the chase group to eventually claim second place. “It was a hard man’s race, there weren’t a lot of places where you could rest, you really had to pay attention for setup for the next turn and the turn thereafter – if you didn’t then you’d be digging deep on the gas to get it back up to speed and the course would take it out of you,” said Gallagher. “Shannon and a group of four or five guys got a gap on the first lap. I worked hard to get into that front group on the second or third lap, but by then Shannon was already off the front by about 20 seconds.”

“(Brett) Luelling (Buy Local Cycling) was with me for the first couple of laps,” said Skerritt. “I started figuring the course out and finding more efficient lines and gassing it where I knew I could and finally separated from him. And I could see Gallagher coming pretty hard, but at that point I had to just not crash and save it for tomorrow.

“Today should have been easier than it was, but I started cramping about halfway through and had to really take it easy and do the bare minimum the last three laps,” continued Skerritt. “On those punchy climbs where you have to battle for traction and apply the power at the same time, I was almost locking up at the top of them. Fortunately I had enough of a gap and could see where people were and could chill out a bit.”

Skerritt going solo © Dave Roth

Skerritt going solo © Dave Roth

Skerritt, a former Masters national champ and regular fixture at the front of the Oregon cyclocross scene estimates this is his 11th or 12th Crusade win. “I’ve been racing cross since ’98. The first year, (Erik) Tonkin (Kona) talked me into racing A’s. One of those races that year I got second behind him, and the following year I started winning, one or maybe two per year. It gets harder and harder, guys just keep getting faster,” said Skerritt. Then, referring to Chris Sheppard who has dominated the Cross Crusades series thus far but was absent from Astoria, “Fortunately this week, as the cat’s away the mice will play! I’ve had two seconds, both behind him.”

Brett Luelling (Buy Local Cycling) rounded out the podium in third. Skerritt’s Corsa Concepts teammate Aaron Tuckerman was in the running for a podium spot until a high-speed, downhill crash derailed those hopes. Tuckerman would end up fifth, behind Ian Brown (River City).

Elite Women

Megan Chinburg led the women's race early on © Dave Roth

Megan Chinburg led the women's race early on © Dave Roth

Megan Chinburg (Veloforma) gunned the beginning of Saturday’s race, remaining the solid ringleader for three-fourths of the first lap. “I really wanted to lead the whole first lap, but I got passed in the horse arena.” With Chinburg still working hard, several others from the charged women’s field came to close the gap.

Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports) pulled out all the stops to stay with former Masters national champ Wendy Williams for most of the race, before Williams unfurled a well-timed attack that had Bishop on the ropes. “With two laps to go, I was in the pain cave – Wendy attacked and I couldn’t respond,” said Bishop.

Williams would keep adding to her advantage all the way to the line. Her teammate, Brigette Brown, missed clipping in to her pedal at the start, causing a pile-up in the field. She regrouped to reel in Bishop on the final lap and went on to claim second, with Bishop third.”I was having fun doing the launch jump on the downhill section of the course each lap and had settled to hopefully take third,” said Brown. “But, somewhere toward the end of the race, I spotted Serena again, so I decided I would have a go at second. I caught her, passed her and stayed ahead to finish with a little gap. Wendy stayed out ahead of us to take a fairly easy win, even though she’s still recovering from being out sick.”

Punchy power-climbs, ninety degree turns and a hearty crowd helped give Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Workshop) the wings she needed for a hard-earned fourth, one of her best finishes of the season, and just ahead of Cyclepath Racing’s Julie Browning. “I, for one, liked the jump, and took it every time,” Brubaker said of the optional ramp launch in the course. “Features like that are what make a course fun … the crowds were awesome, especially [Cross Crusade and Cyclocross Nationals promoter] Brad Ross at the top of the longer climb.”

Wendy Williams building her lead © Dave Roth

Wendy Williams building her lead © Dave Roth

“The course definitely favored power and acceleration, which is why track stars like Nissy [Cobb, 2010 silver and bronze medalist at Elite Track Nationals] did well and dominated today,” said Chinburg, who finished in seventh. “It’s my highest finish yet. Sunday, I’ll try to figure out how to bury myself like Tina does.”

Cobb (River City Bicycles), for her part, described the transition from velodrome to cyclocross mayhem. “I was cautious in the technical sections, like the off-cambers and bumps, so that’s something I need to work on. Naturally I’m a sprinter, and I have been working on power all year for the track, so my goal for today was to be steadier, no punching back and forth. Not much transfers over from track racing, except the mental aspect.”

Sunday’s Cross Crusade #6

Pegasus, complete with pedal-powered wings © Dave Roth

Pegasus, complete with pedal-powered wings © Dave Roth

The Oregon cyclocross scene tends to exude more of a party atmosphere than most, but that gets turned way up for Halloween, and the costumes, ranging from ridiculous to somewhat race-worthy, only add to it. Cardboard box robots coated in foil and emitting eerie tunes mixed with dominatrixes, the Goonies who made Astoria famous, a mock Rapha photo shoot during the singlespeed race and plenty of kegged social lubricant. As the day progressed, most of the wackier costumes made there way from race participant to boisterous spectator, while those in the faster categories tended to choose more streamlined get-ups.

Although the course dried significantly during Saturday’s racing, hard overnight rain had the course completely drenched by go time for Day 2. Sunday’s is typically the more mellow and festive of the weekend’s races, but the course, which was flipped around with slight modifications added, was even tougher. Short, steep descents with twisting corners left limited options for lines, and deep ruts formed by the time the Elite men’s and women’s races got there, combined the surrounding slick mud, made straying from the defined paths costly. The course again passed back and forth between rows of animal stalls, but this time the 180s were slip-and-slide adventures. And a long road climb to the start/finish, followed shortly thereafter by the barriers and a long slog of a dirt climb made sure riders burned off extra calories in preparation for candy and sundry after-race beverages.

Elite Men

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! © Dave Roth

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! © Dave Roth

After getting a beer sprayed in his face at last year’s Halloween Crusade, Skerritt was not feeling the holiday spirit and opted to race sans costume – a decision that earned him a good dose of heckling from the surrounding crowd. But Skerritt was dressed in his game face, and methodically took control of the proceedings early on.

“I felt really good today after suffering through leg cramps yesterday. I was conservative for about a lap and a half after getting the holeshot,” said Skerritt. “A couple of guys were challenging for the lead in the first half-lap, Damian Schmitt and Eirik Schulz (Specialized-River City), but I battled for the position so I could pick my own lines. Then they wouldn’t take the lead on the pavement, so I attacked the first time up the paved climb towards the finish. I just started punching it everywhere I could. Gallagher was the last one hanging on.”

Michael Gallagher, as cyclocross dork © Dave Roth

Michael Gallagher, as cyclocross dork © Dave Roth

Gallagher wouldn’t be able to hold Skerritt’s relentless pace for long. “I was riding in second for a while, within 10 seconds of Shannon and maybe making him a little worried. Then the second time up that steady state climb, I was like, ‘this is not good!’ – I was struggling. I went backwards, from second back to fifth.”

That was all the room Skerritt would need as he kept his eyes on the prize and the pace high. “I was just trying to floor it everywhere I could, going up the climb in the drops and out of the saddle, going as hard as I could on the pavement, and taking it easy through the sketchier stuff. I was taking the heckling and riding it smooth,” said Skerritt. By the finish, Skerritt had a gap of over a minute on second place.

Brett Nichols (Scott USA) powered his way up the grueling dirt climb every lap to put daylight between himself and the rest of the pursuers, with Ian Brown (River City Bicycles) claiming third, and Damian Schmitt (Sunnyside Sports) pulling out a breakthrough ride to take fourth in front of Gallagher.

Impressively – especially to me, since I was all over the place on the technical descent and managed to crash several times – the lead riders reported that the whole front chase group managed to keep it clean on the slick downhill and ensuing corners lap after lap. “Some had better lines than others, there were people sliding a little wide, but there was no super yard sale. If anyone struggled through there, they’d be close enough to be able to make it up on the road right after.”

Elite Women

Tina Brubaker, Serena Bishop and Wendy Williams get in the spirit © Dave Roth

Tina Brubaker, Serena Bishop and Wendy Williams get in the spirit © Dave Roth

Garbed as a red, blue and star-strewn Captain America, Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Workshop) took a hard inside left for the hole shot on Day 2, leading the women’s field into another oil slick course. Megan Chinburg (Veloforma), who led the women out on day one, stung hard in her bumblebee costume to earn and maintain spot number five. “I saw the lap cards said ‘2’, but thought the men’s A leader had lapped me twice already, so I figured we had one to go. I went as hard as I could and when I realized we had one more lap still, I knew I had to maintain because Brubaker was right on me. That’s the hardest I’ve ever pushed in a race.”

Flower power! © Dave Roth

Flower power! © Dave Roth

Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports) held a solid grip onto third place for both days, while Brigette Brown (River City Bicycles) dominated the greased mud chicanes for most of the race. “Brigette started out fast and I stayed with her for the first four laps. She rode the technical downhill with exceptional confidence, and I would close that gap on the hill each lap,” said Bishop. “I bobbled in a mud corner and Brigette got a gap I couldn’t close. Then Wendy Williams, who was about 20-25 seconds behind until this point, with her late race strength, caught me, rode on my wheel for half a lap and then passed both me and Brigette to take the win.”

“Serena tried to make a pass three or four times, but I pushed hard each time and didn’t let her go by,” said Brown. “Eventually I (built) a good sized gap, plus maybe 40-45 seconds on Wendy too. Wendy started slower, but eventually passed Serena, and then kept going for me. I slid out on the pavement corner coming off the road a little too hot and lost maybe 10 seconds with about three laps to go. I could see Wendy steadily approaching, and with less than a lap to go she finally caught me on the back grassy hill climb and passed me to finish out of reach.”

Williams turned up the heat, pulling ahead of her teammate Brown, creating a cushion between the two. With Alice Pennington (Team S&M) racing UCI in Boulder for the weekend, Williams was able to obtain valuable points for the series overall.

Full results beneath photos

Saturday’s Photo Gallery by Dave Roth:

Sunday’s Photo Gallery by Dave Roth:

Cross Crusade #5 Men’s Results

PlFirst NameLast NameTeamLaps
1ShannonSkerrittCorsa Concepts9 p/b Blue9
3BrettLuellingBuy Local Cycling9
4IanBrownriver city bicycles/tonic fab9
5AaronTuckermanCorsa Concepts9
6BrettNicholsScott USA9
7EirikSchulzSpecialized River City Bicycles9
8DamianSchmittSunnyside Sports9
9StevenHunterEmbrocation Cycling Journal9
10ScottBradwayTeam S&M/Sellwood Cycle Repair9
11RossBrodyBuy Local Cycling9
12EricSheagleyRocky Mountain9
13WillRossKalari Bros9
14BenjaminKubasTherapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR89
15PatrickMeansTeam S+M9
16TimJoslinCyclepath Racing9
17JamesCeccorulliTeam Dirt/Mudslinger Events9
18PatrickJacksonBuy Local Cycling9
19JoshuaLiberlesCorsa Concepts9
20jeremywhitmanBroken Spoke9
21TonyKicGentle Lovers9
22alexwentzTeam Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing9
23PaulLaCavaGiant Bicycles9
24IanLeitheiserCyclepath Racing9
25MattFoxSunnyside Sports9
26joelmadroneCourage Cycles9
28JeremyDunnEmbrocation Cycling Journal9
29GrahamHowardRocky Mountain Bicycle p/b Shimano9
30JeffCurtesEMBROCATION/Speedvagen Racing9
31JonathanMyersTeam S+M9
32RyanWeaverRiver City Bicycles9
33DaveMessenheimerTeam Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing9
34SpencerMoersfelderRiver City Bicycles9
35NealBiblerTeam S+M9
36DougWilmesPortland Bicycle Studio8
37SethPatlaRiver City Bicycles8
39AdrianOlmsteadPortland Bicycle Studio8
40MichaelManningPilots Cycling8
41MattClinePortobello Bicycle Racing8
42ChipSloanGründelbrüisers/Stewie Bicycles8
43bradwinnPrimal-First Bank8
44BrianSchultzGründelbrüisers/Stewie Bicycles8
45ClintCulpepperTeam Beer8
46BarrettMcallisterCascade Couriers8

Cross Crusade #5 Women’s Results:

1First NameLast NameTeamLaps
2WendyWilliamsRiver City Bicycles8
3BrigetteBrownRiver City Bicycles8
4SerenaBishopSunnyside Sports8
5TinaBrubakerVanilla Workshop8
6JulieBrowningCyclepath Racing8
7HeatherClarkBend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team8
9NissyCobbRiver City Bicycles7
10LauraWinberryElite Endurance7
11ReneeScottSunnyside Sports7
12AnnaChristiansenIronclad Performance Wear7
13LindsayJonesTeam Dirt/Mudslinger Events7
14ColleenMcclenahanSorella Forte7
15BeckyBjorkBend Memorial Clinic Total Care7
16SarahTingeyBridgetown Velo7
17AnonaWhitleyIronclad Performance Wear7
18TaylorShekellTeam Beer7
19AbbyWatsonEmbrocation Cycling Journal7
20KarenOppenheimerBend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team7
PlNumFirst NameLast NameTeamCityAgeLapsNotes
14ShannonSkerrittCorsa ConceptsPortland399 p/t BluePortland379
313BrettLuellingBuy Local CyclingSalem299
452IanBrownriver city bicycles/tonic fabPortland319
510AaronTuckermanCorsa ConceptsPortland279
6107BrettNicholsScott USABoise299
765EirikSchulzSpecialized River City BicyclesPortland399
814DamianSchmittSunnyside SportsBend329
939StevenHunterEmbrocation Cycling JournalPortland309
1038ScottBradwayTeam S&M/Sellwood Cycle RepairPortland399
11111RossBrodyBuy Local CyclingSalem319
1211EricSheagleyRocky MountainPortland389
13160WillRossKalari Bros9
148BenjaminKubasTherapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8Eugene349
15121PatrickMeansTeam S+MBellingham279
16118TimJoslinCyclepath RacingPortland349
17139JamesCeccorulliTeam Dirt/Mudslinger EventsPortland239
1846PatrickJacksonBuy Local CyclingBend319
1957JoshuaLiberlesCorsa ConceptsPortland379
20159jeremywhitmanBroken Spoke9
2143TonyKicGentle Loversportland329
22161alexwentzTeam Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing9
23114PaulLaCavaGiant BicyclesPortland329
2419IanLeitheiserCyclepath RacingPortland399
25102MattFoxSunnyside SportsBend329
2640joelmadroneCourage CyclesPortland359
2841JeremyDunnEmbrocation Cycling JournalPortland309
2929GrahamHowardRocky Mountain Bicycle p/b Shimanoportland259
30105JeffCurtesEMBROCATION/Speedvagen RacingPortland419
3121JonathanMyersTeam S+MPortland439
3253RyanWeaverRiver City BicyclesPortland339
336DaveMessenheimerTeam Oregon presented by Laurelwood BrewingPortland309
34117SpencerMoersfelderRiver City BicyclesPortland359
3545NealBiblerTeam S+MMilwaukie329
36126DougWilmesPortland Bicycle StudioPortland308
371SethPatlaRiver City BicyclesHillsboro338
39112AdrianOlmsteadPortland Bicycle StudioPortland358
40162MichaelManningPilots Cycling8
41164MattClinePortobello Bicycle Racing8
42145ChipSloanGründelbrüisers/Stewie BicyclesVancouver8
43123bradwinnPrimal-First Bankportland278
44104BrianSchultzGründelbrüisers/Stewie BicyclesPortland338
45144ClintCulpepperTeam BeerPortland8
46158BarrettMcallisterCascade Couriers8

Crusade # 6 Men’s Results:
1    Shannon    Skerritt    Corsa Concepts
2    Brett    Nichols    Scott USA
3    Ian    Brown    River City Bicycles/Tonic Fab
4    Damian    Schmitt    Sunnyside Sports
5    Michael    Gallagher p/t Blue
6    Aaron    Tuckerman    Corsa Concepts
7    Eirik    Schulz    Specialized River City Bicycles
8    Brett    Luelling    Buy Local Cycling
9    Benjamin    Kubas    Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8
10    Joel    Madrone    Courage Cycles
11    Steven    Hunter    Embrocation Cycling Journal
12    Patrick    Jackson    Buy Local Cycling
13    Jeff    Curtes    EMBROCATION/Speedvagen Racing
14    Tony    Kic    Gentle Lovers
15    Ryan    Weaver    River City Bicycles
16    Scott    Bradway    Team S&M/Sellwood Cycle Repair
17    James    Ceccorulli    Team Dirt
18   Graham    Howard    Rocky Mountain Bicycle p/b Shimano
19    Seth    Patla    River City Bicycles
20    Jeremy    Whitman    Broken Spoke
21    Ross    Brody    Buy Local Cycling
22    Michael    Manning    Pilots Cycling
23    Ross    Bowden
24    Matt    Cline    Portobello Bicycle Racing
25    Colin    Rowan    Corner Cycle
26    Joshua    Liberles    Corsa Concepts
27    Matt    Fox    Sunnyside Sports
28    Neal    Bibler    Team S&M
29    Jon     Myers    Team S&M
30    Alex    Wentz    Team Oregon
31    Will    Ross    Kalari Bros
32    Andrew    Willis    Ironclad Performance Wear
33    Paul    LaCava    Giant Bicycles
34    Dave    Messenheimer    Team Oregon
dnf    Doug    Wilmes    Portland Bicycle Studio
dnf    Brad    Winn    Primal-First Bank
dnf    Patrick    Means    Team S + M
dnf    Scotty    Carlile

Crusade # 6 Women’s Results:
1    Wendy    Williams    River City Bicycles
2    Brigette    Brown    River City Bicycles
3    Serena    Bishop    Sunnyside Sports
4    Abby    Watson    Embrocation Cycling Journal
5    Megan    Chinburg    Veloforma
6    Tina    Brubaker    Vanilla Workshop
7    Anne    Usher    Bridgetown Velo
8    Laura    Winberry    Elite Endurance
9    Anissa    Cobb    River City Bicycles
10    Julie    Browning    Cyclepath Racing
11    Lindsay    Jones    Team Dirt
12    Rene    Scott    Sunnyside Sports
13    Heather    Clark    Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team
14    Karen    Oppenheimer    Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team
15    Alexandra    Burton
dnf    Susan    Peithman    Veloforma



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